This year marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade in America. With this in mind, writer and green-living Caroline Nye composed a list of 10 shocking facts about slavery in 2008.
- There are more people in slavery now than at any other time in human history.
According to research by Free the Slaves, more people are enslaved worldwide than ever before. In its 400 years, the transatlantic slave trade is estimated to have shipped up to 12 million Africans to various colonies in the West. Free the Slaves estimates that the number of people in slavery today is at least 27 million.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center suggests that three out of four slavery victims are women and that half of all modern-day slaves are children. “Countless” other people are in other forms of servitude described ambiguously “unfree labor” and not legally classified as slavery, according to the Anti-Slavery Society.
- The value of slaves has decreased.
A slave in 1850 in American South cost the equivalent of approximately $40,000. According to figures published by FST, the cost of a slave today averages around $90, depending on the work they are forced to carry out.
A young adult male laborer in Mali might only fetch $40, whereas an HIV-free female might attract a price of up to $1,000. Expert Kevin Bales says that because modern slavery is so cheap, it is worse than that of the Atlantic slave trade. People have become disposable and their living conditions are worse than ever before as a result of their value.
- Slavery still exists in the US.
Estimates by the US State Department suggest up to 17,500 slaves are brought into the US every year, with 50,000 of those working as prostitutes, farm workers or domestic servants. According to the CIA, more than 1,000,000 people are enslaved in the US today. Thousands of cases go undetected each year and many are difficult to take to court as it can be difficult to prove force or legal coercion.
- Slavery is hidden behind many other names, thus disguising it from society.
These names are “chattel slavery” (the traditional meaning of slavery), “bonded labor”, trafficking, forced labor, and forced marriage, amongst others.
- The least known method of slavery is the most widely used.
Bonded Labor occurs when labor is demanded in order to repay a debt or loan and the cyclical nature of debt and work can enslave the person for the rest of their life. Some conditions are so controlled that slaves are surrounded by armed guards while they work, many of whom are slaves themselves. It is estimated that there are 20 million bonded laborers in the world.
My book Nobodies deals mostly with cases of bonded labor.
Want the whole list? Check out her whole article at Matador Volunteer.